My research examines the international politics of intra-state conflict, state formation, and international security with an empirical focus on the Middle East and North Africa.
My book manuscript, Persuading Power: Rebel Diplomacy and the Pursuit of Intervention in Civil Wars, examines how rebel groups use international diplomacy as a strategic tool to advance their domestic war-time objectives. From Benjamin Franklin’s mission to Paris in 1776, to Yasser Arafat’s speech at the United Nations in 1974, to Syrian opposition lobbying today, insurgents have used diplomacy to solicit and secure third-party political and military intervention. What are the different strategies of diplomacy rebel groups use to solicit third-party assistance, and when do rebels employ one strategy over another?
To answer these questions, I develop a unique framework for understanding what the different types of insurgent diplomatic strategy are, and provide a theory to explain when and why certain strategies are employed over others. I argue that insurgent diplomatic strategy is a function of the local threat environment rebel groups face at home. More specifically, a group’s diplomatic strategy is determined by: 1) the degree of fragmentation within the insurgent movement, which affects who rebel groups are most likely to solicit intervention from; and 2) the military viability of rebel groups, which determines the type of intervention they will solicit from those actors.
To test my argument, I examine the diplomatic strategies of the Iraqi Kurdish (1958-1990) and Palestinian (1959-1988) national movements. These case studies employ new interview and archival data collected over nine months of field work in Iraqi Kurdistan, Israel-Palestine, Jordan and the United Kingdom. I make use of 71 original interviews with high-level Kurdish and Palestinian officials (current and former), and over 20,000 primary-source documents collected across four archives.
A full manuscript was presented at the Project on Middle East Political Science (POMEPS) Junior Scholars Book Development Workshop at Princeton University on October 19-20, 2017.
2019. "Foreign Support, Miscalculation, and Conflict Escalation: Iraqi Kurdish Self-Determination in Perspective." Ethnopolitics 18(1): 29-45. (Article)
“Strategies of Rebel Diplomacy: Evidence from the Iraqi Kurdish Liberation Movement” (revise & resubmit).
“How Civilian Perceptions Affects Patterns of Violence and Competition in Multi-Party Insurgencies” (revise & resubmit).
“Rethinking Transnational Insurgencies,” w/ Paul Staniland (available upon request).
"The Geography of Separatist Violence: A Geospatial Analysis," w/ David Carter and Ken Schultz (available upon request).
Op-Eds & Policy Analysis
"Thinking Critically About 'By, With, Through" in Syria, Iraq, and Beyond." Lawfare, January 20, 2019.
"Why the 2018 Election Season Isn't Over for the Kurds." Lawfare, 13 May 2018.
"What the Kurdish Independence Referendum Means for the Middle East." UN Dispatch, Global Dispatches Podcast, 5 October 2017.
"5 Things to Know About the Referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan." The Monkey Cage, The Washington Post, 19 September 2017.
"The Kurdistan Region of Iraq is Going to Vote on Independence. Here's What You Need to Know." The Monkey Cage, The Washington Post, 21 June 2017.
"For Iraqi Kurds, Trump Brings Hope for Independence." Foreign Affairs, 12 April 2017.
“Why Are Syrian Kurds Pivoting Toward Moscow?” The Monkey Cage, The Washington Post, 12 February 2016.
“Why the U.S. Backed the Kurds.” The Monkey Cage, The Washington Post, 9 September 2014.
“Why Syria Could Turn into 1990s Algeria.” The Monkey Cage Blog, 3 July 2012.
“Arab Spring Brings Pretty Nice Weather for Al Qaeda Terror.” New York Daily News, 31 March, 2011.